International Conference Thinking Europe in Yiddish

In contrast to most national cultures in Europe, modern Yiddish culture came into being in geographically disconnected landscapes and without the support of a nation state. Despite many differences, this culture maintained its unity throughout disparate majority cultures and beyond the borders of nation states. 

Internationally acknowledged scholars will explore different blueprints of a European culture conceived by Yiddish speaking intellectuals and artists between 1890 and 1939. The geographically fragmented cultural space and the idea of “Yiddishland”, the linguistic and the ideological connections of this transnational community will be sketched and the question how Yiddish visions of “culture” and “nation” compare to other programs and utopias of the period will be addressed.

The Jewish Renaissance in Europe emerged in close contact with the reigning cultures, especially those of Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. The polyglot Jewish Europeans understood Yiddish culture to be transcultural: beyond a conflict between their own and other cultures. They were engaged in favor of a transnational vision of a “culture nation without a state” and at the same time took part in different European social, political and cultural movements. Increasingly nationalistic and anti-Semitic majority cultures predominantly dismissed and rejected the contribution of the Yiddish-speaking community.

The conference draws attention to the cultural forms of expression of“Yiddish Europe”. It is intended to suggest considering the Yiddish concepts as an integral part of the European history of ideas and to enrich the image of Europe shaped by the historical canon with a little known but significant narrative.In the context of the conference, three public events will take place:


Contact: undefinedjiddisch(at)

4 June 2018 - 6 June 2018